Cover Reveal – The Fall!

I am so excited to share the AMAZING cover for my new novel, The Fall, which is being published by Kwela. The Fall comes out on 20 July and is the product of four years of writing. It is set during the #FeesMustFall protests with a range of interesting characters who have some surprises up their sleeves.

The cover was designed by the extremely talented Joey Hifi who has done the covers for many writers that I admire. He has captured the core parts of the story so fantastically and I am still in awe.

I am really grateful to Sarah Lotz, an author whose work I adore, for the shout on the front cover.

Thanks especially to Carolyn Meads, my publisher at Kwela, who has believed in this project since I pitched it to her all those years ago.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

English novels written by South African women in 2017 – a list!

Last updated 11 August 2020

You may have read about the project I’m undertaking. If not, please read this page.

Today’s list is of books published in 2017 (in alphabetical order by surname).

*DISCLAIMER: If you know of a book and it doesn’t appear here, let me know! This post will be updated as and when I get new information.

Any omission is because I am human, and deeply flawed. Please help me correct my errors.

If you are are a South African women writer who published a full-length English novel (or whose novel was translated to English) in 2017, and your name is not on this list, please email me to let me know. Details here.*

English novels written by South African women in 2018 – a list!

Last updated: 9 August 2020

You may have read about the project I’m undertaking. If not, please read this page.

Today’s list is of books published in 2018 (in alphabetical order by surname).

Hope you enjoy!

*DISCLAIMER: If you know of a book and it doesn’t appear here, let me know! This post will be updated as and when I get new information.

Any omission is because I am human, and deeply flawed. Please help me correct my errors.

If you are are a South African women writer who published a full-length English novel (or whose novel was translated to English) in 2018, and your name is not on this list, please email me to let me know. Details here.*

English novels written by South African women in 2019 – a list!

Last updated: 22 July.

A few years back, I committed to reading only African women’s writing for a year. It was an incredible project and one that introduced me to a raft of talented writers that I might not have found otherwise. It was a bit of tough time in my life and these books helped me navigate, helped me see different versions of women survive and thrive, and inspired my own writing. I wrote about each book as I read it (you can read about that starting with the first book, Yewande Omotoso’s Bom Boy, here).

Next year (hopefully, pandemic allowing) I’ll be starting a slightly longer project – a PhD where I hope to be reading all the novels written by South African women in English (or translated to English, though I’m still deciding on this one and so have included them here while I make up my mind) published between 1994 and 2019. It’s going to be a mammoth, thrilling life-changing task. I cannot wait!

I want to point out some of my PhD parameters, for the sake of clarity and transparency. I am focussing on adult novels, written in English, published by publishers (rather than self-published), written by authors who identify as women, and who identify as South African.

It’s so important for me that it’s clear from the outset that these parameters are not at all related to what I think good literature is, they are parameters for a single degree and what I think I may be able to achieve in 3 to 5 years of my life. They are limitations, and they must be noted.

Like all good projects, this one begins with a list. What I didn’t anticipate was that making the list of South African women writers who were published in SA – simply getting down on paper the writers and their books, when they were published and by who – would be as much of a task as the reading. That’s probably half naïveté and half hoping that the publishers would keep those records themselves… not so.

It has been interesting to explore the sources of this information, why it hasn’t been kept in a more deliberate way, and what it all means. I’ve used journal articles, got some incredible help from the South African Museum of Literature, and have been google searching my heart out. I know that traditional publishing routes can and have and continue to exclude important texts and writers who have opted instead for self-publishing. If finding a list of published authors is hard enough, trying to make a list of self-published writers is going to be as difficult, if not more so.

This long explanation is really just me saying the following – I think anyone who puts their writing down on paper and send thats out into the world whether by the route of a traditional publisher or by publishing themselves is brave and inspiring and courageous. It is also me saying that I don’t want to miss anyone!

I have started making my list, and I am updating it regularly. I don’t see any reason why everyone who wants to embark on this journey shouldn’t have access to it, so I’ll be posting as a series of blog posts, by year over the coming weeks and months. I may post a few pieces here in the future about some of the trends this list is already revealing, but for now, I’m focussing on getting the list out.

UPDATE: Luckily, some kind people on Twitter have also volunteered to help me make sure this online list includes books published by indie publishers, and those that are self-published. Thank you!

The list I’ve include below is what I have found so far in alphabetical order (by surname).

If you know of a book and it doesn’t appear here, let me know!

  • Sally Andrew, Death on the Limpopo, Umuzi
  • Wilna Adrianse, Blindside, Tafelberg (Translation)
  • Carol Campbell, The Tortoise Cried its Only Tear, Umuzi
  • Nerine Dorman, The Company of Birds, Immanion Press
  • Finuala Dowling, Okay Okay Okay, Kwela
  • Tracey Farren, The book of Malachi, Kwela
  • Maire Fisher, The Enumerations, Umuzi
  • Dawn Garisch, Breaking Milk, Karavan Press
  • Kerstin Hall, The Border Keeper, Tor.com
  • Rashida Khan, The Fragrance of Forgiveness, Kwarts Publishers
  • Qarnita Loxton, Being Shelley, Kwela
  • Joanne MacGregor, The First Time I Fell, Self-published.
  • Eva Mazza, Sex, Lies, and Stellenbosch, Jacana
  • Nedine Moonsamy, The Unfamous Five, Modjaji Books
  • Susan Newham-Blake, As if Born to You, Penguin
  • Marguerite Poland, A Sin of Omission, Penguin
  • Kuli Roberts, Siren, Blackbird Books
  • Fiona Snyckers, Lacuna, Picador Africa
  • Marlene Van Niekerk, The Snow Sleeper, NB (Translation)
  • Meg Vandermerwe, The woman of the stone sea, Umuzi
  • Melissa Volker, Shadow Flicker, Karavan Press
  • Melissa Volker, A Fractured Land, Karavan Press
  • Ingrid Winterbach, The troubled times of Magrieta Prinsloo, Human & Rousseau (Translation)

You can get most of these books at the Book Lounge or your favourite local bookstore.

*DISCLAIMER: If you know of a book and it doesn’t appear here, let me know! This post will be updated as and when I get new information.

If you are are a South African women writer who published a full-length English novel (or whose novel was translated to English) in 2019, and your name is not on this list, please email me to let me know. Details here.

Any omission is because I am human, and deeply flawed. Please help me correct my errors.*

Writing advice from Nozizwe Cynthia Jele

Nozizwe Cynthia Jele is an award-winning South African novelist who has written two books – Happiness is a Four-Letter Word (Kwela, 2010) and The Ones with Purpose (Kwela, 2018).

Happiness is a Four-Letter Word won numerous prizes (Best First Book category (Africa region) in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011 and 2011 M-Net Literary Award in the Film category) and was adapted into a film released in South African in 2016. The Ones with Purpose was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (2019) and UJ Prize for South African Writing in English (2019). It has been long-listed for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award.

Jele also writes shorts stories and multiple forms of writing, while contributing to the promotion of reading and writing in South Africa.

In an interview with Go.See.Do Jele gave some advice to aspiring writers.

Q: Advice to aspiring writers (apart from “I hope you come from wealth”).

A: Lol! Start writing now, remember there is never a perfect moment to start. Also read, a lot – I’ve learned so much from other writers through their books. I recently came across this tweet by writer, Sulaiman Addonia, “Dear so-called aspiring writer: yes, read read read. But. Not just books: read people, read eyes, read music, read paintings, read the air, the sea, the trees, the lakes, the sun, the moon & the stars. Read the universe” (I LOVE this). Well articulated. Aspiring writers on Twitter can also check my pinned tweet. I try to put valuable information on writing there @jelecynthia.

Cynthia Jele as interviewed by Go.See.Do Africa

You can also find out more about her writing process in this interview with the Lagos Review.

Writing advice from Kopano Matlwa Mabaso

Kopano Matlwa Mabaso was born in 1985 and by her 22st birthday had written and published Coconut (2007) which won the EU literary award for debut fiction and the Wole Soyinka prize for Literature in Africa (and was written whilst studying to become a doctor). In 2011 she was listed as one of the US Embassy’s Young African Women Leaders. Coconut is soon going to be adapted into a film too!

Since her debut in 2010 she has graduated with a PhD in Population Health from Oxford University and published two more books – Spilt Milk (2010) and Period Pain (2017). Period pain was shortlisted for multiple literary awards. She has also won awards for her medical work.

In interviews she is often cited as quoting Chekov – ‘Medicine is my wife and writing is my mistress’ and I think it’s safe to say that the world is benefiting from both of these relationships.

I found some writing advice from Kopano via the Golden Baobab awards when she was a panellist. It linked to some of what I’ve been reading about creativity and ‘flow states‘, to the value of letting go of your ego, and to what some people call ‘trusting the process.’

I hope you enjoy!

It’s always difficult to know what to say when asked for ‘writing tips’ because I’ve never really quite felt like I was qualified to do anything of the sort. Writing for me has always been a dance with God, often beginning with me forgetting the steps, going off rhythm, losing my nerve and ending with me surrendering to another lesson where I must be taught the moves again, where I must be reminded to ignore the reflections of my misshapen self in the mirrors that line the walls, where I must submit to being led and find contentment in letting God choose the music and the pace.

[…]

However, what I would say though, is to surrender. Let your pen relax in your hand and your notebook lie loosely on your lap. Let whatever comes, come, and try not to think too far into the plot. Just pour all of yourself into that very moment, into the great opportunity you have been given to add to the story of humanity. Do not worry if it’s poignant, witty, timely, let it be what it is. Let it be. Worry not about an audience, worry more about the unseen audience, the eternal audience that won’t hesitate to prickle your conscious when you dare to write from a place of dishonesty. And read! Read as much as you can. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Read adverts, menus, newspapers, chewing gum wrappers, food labels, good books, bad books, fiction and non-fiction, books with more pictures than words and books that you meet in trains, on the street, at your workplace and in your home.

Kopano Matlwa Mabaso via The Golden Baobab

Happy reading, and happy writing!